Friday, September 18, 2009

All Fired Up

I'm all fixated on camping gear. I doubt that you've noticed. I've zeroed in on cooking stuff. I'm shooting for light and easy and I looked to the big mfr's. All I wanna do is boil water to bring some dehydrated stuff back to life. And maybe brew up some krappy coffee. Nothing gourmet, just fuel to get home. So I did some [apparently lame] research and dropped fifty bucks on a lightweight, higher-tech, compact stove that uses propane canisters. (I'm beginning to feel like I wasted fifty bucks. Read on.)

So Steve drops in out of the blue and tells me about the esbit stove. I didn't immediately get all excited, but I did pay attention. It was his tone . . . not at all pushy, just "dude, you'd be smart to check this out. But do what you want".

I bit. 10 bucks for the stove, *including fuel*. Made in Germany, which I am sorry, but that is my heritage and Germans do know how to do certain things right. And did I mention that this stove has been around FOREVER.

As soon as I got it out of the box, my heart rate went up. This thing freaking rules before you even light it.

And then I tried to light it.

I got a rock so I could do a test run without burning my deck down.

I'd read somewhere that you could just light a match and lay it on top and you were in business. Three matches later, I was not.

But then I lit one and held it to the edge and we went all pyro.

Oh, did I mention that it has two cooking positions. That would be 5 bucks per position. We haven't seen those kind of prices since the Leave-It-To-Beaver era.

Man, this thing is seriously cool.


Hank Greer said...

Neat! How long does it take to boil a pot of water? It looks like two sides act as a windscreen. I'd be interested to see how well that works in the wind since the other two sides are open.

Pat S said...

Hank, they say it takes 8 minutes to boil 2 cups. And yeah, everybody (on the internet) says a windscreen is critical, so I'm in the process of figuring that out now. I'm totally fascinated with this thing.

Schrauf said...

For coffee I highly recommend the MSR filter.

Makes a better cup than most home machines. Heat the water, preheat the cup if possible, and then pour the water through the filter into the cup and swish around several times. After 3 - 4 minutes of seeping you are ready to go!

Rob Brewer said...

I bought an Esbit last year at the Army Surplus on Division used for $1.50. I also have a canister stove for over %50 and a MSR Whisperlite that I've had forever. Naturally, the Whisperlite is big and heavy and not something you would use for backpacking unless you are cooking for larger groups, then it can't be beat. I like the canister stove too, but you cannot beat the Esbit for pure simplicity. Fuel is cheap and I found a piece of windscreen material (like aluminum foil, but much thicker) that I fold up and store in the stove.

I was asked to join the Winter Knights (local snowmobile club that helps out with search and rescue) for a winter training early this year and one of the tasks was to build a fire and boil water, so I built a fire, then broke out the Esbit to boil water. Then they changed the rules and said I had to boil the water on the fire. Oh well. I did get a couple more converts to the Esbit though!

Pat S said...

Schrauf, I was planning on going with instant coffee packets, just to save weight and space. But that filter is pretty slick - fits inside your cup and only weighs 1 oz. Seems like a pretty easy tradeoff for good coffee.

Rob, I think I'll find a use for both stoves - they're definitely two different animals. The propane one (Snow Peak Gigapower) is a powerhouse compared to the Esbit. But the Esbit is just so damn elegant in it's simplicity. I picked up a piece of aluminum dryer ducting today that I'm gonna try and fashion a windscreen out of. We'll see how that works out.

Sarah said...

Rad. I am gearing up for long, cold days in the middle of nowhere (Eastern). This could come in handy. :)

EvilElf said...

I like my esbit, but the fuel tablets must be made out of some long dead aquatic creature. When I put the fuel in a backpack for more than a few hours it leaves a very fishy smell on everything packed around it.

Whale? Perch? Carp? I don't know, but it can stink its way through a ziplock bag. Any body else notice this?

This stove always intrigues me:

Downside - batteries and weight. Upside - it will burn everything.

Anonymous said...

I'm just happy someone other than me relates to 'leave it to beaver'

The Scoopspot said...

I love the low-tech-ness of the Esbit. Wind can be an issue but it'll boil your water plenty fast. For the price and convenience it offers, you can't beat the Esbit. I kinda like how it smells too.

Pat S said...

Sarah, ditch the American Express, but don't leave home without the Esbit.

Nice try, Anon. There's only one person who reads this blog that's old enough to base their entire set of values on the Beav and that's you, John C.

EvilElf, If I devoted the balance of my life to the science of chemistry, I could never create a smell this gross. It hadn't occured to me that it could rub off on everthing else in my pack. Super-double-gross. Funny thing is that once it starts burning, it's not bad. Love the garbage burner, but I better limit my number of stove purchases this year to 2. Marital disharmony is such a drag.

Scoopspot, you've come out to play! Right on. Agree with everything except "I kinda like how it smells too". Holy hell . . . were you raised on a fishing boat? Just in case you're getting any ideas, this is a terrible idea for an ice cream flavor.